Initial D: The Virgin and Child

Object Details

Title:

Initial D: The Virgin and Child

Artist/Maker(s):

Masters of Dirc van Delf (Dutch, active about 1400 - about 1410)

Culture:

Dutch

Date:

about 1405 - 1410

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 16.5 x 11.7 cm (6 1/2 x 4 5/8 in.)

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Within this initial D, the Madonna of Humility sits humbly on the ground. Despite her lowly pose, the anonymous artist or artists, known as the Masters of Dirc van Delf, reminded the viewer of the Virgin's lofty status as the Queen of Heaven by showing her crowned and celebrated by a music-making angel in the upper border. The theme of the Madonna of Humility became popular in the 1400s as Christians increasingly focused on the human qualities of holy figures. The artist(s) further emphasized the Virgin's humanity by representing her nursing the infant Jesus.

The rubric, Incipiunt hore de domina n[ost]ra (The hours of our Lady begin), introduces the Matins text of the Hours of the Virgin, which begins with a verse from Psalm 50: Domine labia mea aperies et os meum annunciabit laude[m] tuam (Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise). An ornate, burnished gold leaf border with vines and bold blue and red leaves almost entirely encloses the text, including the initial. The bear and the vignette of a man battling a griffin in the border are not related thematically to the image of the Virgin.

Related Works
Exhibitions
The International Style: Courtly Art Around the Year 1400 (October 24, 1994 to January 8, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), October 25, 1994 to January 8, 1995
Masterpieces of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript illumination (December 16, 1997 to March 22, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to March 22, 1998
Illuminating Color (May 22 to August 26, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 22 to August 26, 2001
Five Hundred Years of Manuscript Illumination (February 11 to June 1, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 11 to June 1, 2003
Illuminated Manuscripts from Belgium and the Netherlands (August 24, 2010 to February 6, 2011)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), August 24, 2010 to February 6, 2011